I had a former client reach out to me recently, mentioning the music that I played at her baby’s birth. Turns out, this baby is still fond of drum music. As a doula, I have always brought music to birth. There was a time when I hauled the CD from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves to every birth, that along with my Disney CD, and I had a Boston CD, if anybody was in the mood to rock out.
These days, I usually turn to Pandora first.
As a childbirth educator, early in our sessions, I always encourage moms to bring in their own music (we play it on break time). At this point, it is not about my musical tastes, or what I think should be “birthy” sort of music. Then for a moment, I have a little fun at the expense of Enya. Don’t get me wrong; I love Enya’s music, and I have more than one Pandora station dedicated to that kind of music. But, not all births are the same, nor are all mothers. You might love the Beatles, or jazz, or country, and the list goes on. When we listen to one another’s music in class, we are exposed to styles of music different than our own, and understand that birth, like so many other hallmark events in life, is unique. The best style of music is the one that makes mom feel happy and comfortable.
When I trained as a Dancing For Birth Instructor, I learned what a huge impact being active in labor can have on a birth, and soon after was putting Dancing For Birth to practice in the labor rooms as a doula. (Have you ever seen videos of moms dancing in birth?) But more than that, it reinforced my own belief that music is an integral part of life, as it can and should be at birth.
Penny Simkin is a doula, some might say the original modern day doula. In her work, she talks about relaxation, rhythm and ritual. Simply put, labor has a rhythm all its own. (Contractions are five minutes apart, lasting for a minute, now they are four minutes apart.) The mom who is often coping well in labor has tapped into her own set of personal resources; she is relaxed. She has some sort of rhythm going on- this could be anything from vocalizing, to foot tapping, and, you guessed it music. Lastly, ritual is that total set of things a woman does in order to bring her comfort during labor. She is bouncing on her ball. Someone is feeding her ice chips. Dad is rubbing her shoulders, while music plays along in the background. This is an empowered birth, the kind which allows women to actually enjoy their labor process, and ultimately enjoy it more.
I still can be brought to tears if some of that old mix tape plays (The tape is gone, but the memories are not). Interested in knowing any of the songs I had on my mix tape? Tell me yours and I will tell you mine.